Friday, August 08, 2008

Beating the Heat

Rest is not idleness, and to lie sometimes on the grass
on a summer day listening to the murmur of water, or
watching the clouds float across the sky,
is hardly a waste of time.
~John Lubbock

I decided to try escaping the heat by going to the Wacissa. During the kayak-loading process this seemed like a boneheaded idea; the phrase "heat stroke" occurred to me. But it was actually considerably cooler on the water than on land--at times even comfortable.

I started out on the right side of the river once I passed the island across from the boat ramp. I spotted a green heron at the water's edge, the first of many today.

It hopped off of that perch and flew a short distance to a branch overhanging the river. It fluffed its topknot briefly at me before getting on with its day. Part of the topknot appears to have stayed fluffed...

And speaking of fluffing, when I turned into the inlet to Blue Spring, I saw a group of ibis, including this juvenile that had been poking around the river bottom and shook itself and fluffed to dry.

There wasn't much going on at the spring so I continued downriver.

I rarely take photos on the left (east) side of the river when I am drifting downstream since it is usually fairly early in the day and the sun shines brightly on that side, making for less-than-ideal lighting for photos. But this tricolored heron was on that side and had more vivid coloring than usual (if I recall, that indicates they are young?) so I decided to give it a try (the wonder of digital--if it doesn't work, delete it!). I liked the way it came out, despite the somewhat bright background.

That was a very accommodating heron and let me get quite close to it, an offer I took advantage of.

As I have mentioned before, I typically see more juvenile little blue herons on the river now than any other bird. It looks like the tail feathers on this one are just beginning to turn to the adult coloration.

The vegetation is beginning to take over parts of the river--I generally like to drift downstream on the west side and paddle upstream on the east. I was in for a surprise on this day since the surface growth was so thick and solid and wide at the point I usually turn around that I couldn't make that turn. I decided to drift downstream a little farther to see if it thinned out. I didn't even see the great blue heron that I passed by until it squawked at me and flew off.

I found a place to turn around and continued upstream on the other side of the river. Limpkins are scattered here and there along the edges. This one posed for a portrait.

You know I can't manage a post here without at least one egret! Such an impressive wingspan.

The light downstream breeze became somewhat more like wind, which, combined with the current at that point and on that side, challenged me a bit until the current slowed near Blue Spring. The rest of the way was easy paddling. I passed another kayaker and a power-boater as I neared the ramp.

There is a little area just downstream of the ramp on the east side that is very picturesque. There are overhanging trees that provide shade, and it is dotted with reedy tussocks. I saw a female wood duck swimming around alone in there and so I quietly paddled along the shoreline. I got a photo of her just as she was leaving the shade and entering the sunlight. These birds seem so drab compared to their male counterparts, but if you look at them without making that comparison, I think they are very attractive.

And then back to the ramp and back home. Paddling on a cool spring-fed river seems to be the best outdoor activity during this time of the year, and I'm sure I'll get back out again soon. Stand by.


OldHorsetailSnake said...

Like you, I am enamored of the tri-colored heron. Nicely shot.

And that's a great egret picture, too (not that I'm saying it's a Great Egret.....)

tsheets said...

I just stumbled across your blog today from a canoeing forum I stumbled across...funny how that works, huh?? :-)

Anyway, the pictures you get are amazing! Such clarity!!

Hannah Hudson said...

Yay!!! Your stuff is so fun to see - let us know if you are ever in the Apsotles - my husband and I will take you to see some amazing spots (he's a fishing guide and has some amazing secret places :)


Crayons said...

Hi Peggy,
I've been fidgeting to tell you what I saw last week on my way back from northern Wisconsin. We stopped at Horicon Marsh, which is, I think, a national wildlife spot. It's a huge marsh.

I realized that the act of reading your blog has made me a better beginning birder.

I saw great blue herons, egrets, coots, Sandhill cranes, an osprey, very first night heron.

I hope things have cooled down for you.

Stacie said...

These are gorgeous shots Peggy! I love that tri colored heron...I didn't realize how much reds they have in them...what a beautiful bird and a beautiful shot!